The Fannie Mae headquarters in Washington. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

While George F. Will fretted in his May 5 op-ed, “Treasury’s Fannie and Freddie rip-off,” that a few hedge fund managers are being ripped off because they can’t recoup their long-shot investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the real focus should be on taxpayers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in conservatorship for eight years because Congress and the administration lack the political will to enact needed housing finance reform. Last week, taxpayers came perilously close to once again having to bail out Freddie Mac after it reported a $354 million first-quarter loss.

The status quo is unacceptable, resulting in uncertainty in the marketplace, limited private-sector participation and tight credit conditions for home buyers that are impeding the housing and economic recovery. A bipartisan group of senators in Congress and private-industry experts earlier this year advanced thoughtful plans that would protect the 30-year mortgage and preserve the federal support necessary for the proper functioning of the U.S. housing market.

Policymakers must act now and use these proposals as a basis to fix our nation’s housing finance system. Otherwise, taxpayers will pay the price.

Ed Brady, Washington

The writer is chairman of the
National Association of Home Builders.